CHIRPY CANARIES SET FOR TAKE-OFF Boss Neil revives feel-good factor
RUSSELL Martin believes Carrow Road is once again brimming with a positivity that went missing for too long – and he’ll be doing everything in his powers to ensure bitter rivals Ipswich Town don’t blow it away today.
Norwich are the Championship’s form side with five successive wins and seven from their last nine league matches thrusting them back into the thick of the promotion race.
That run has coincided with the arrival of manager Alex Neil from Hamilton Academical, with the 33year-old set to experience his first East Anglian derby at a time when both sides covet the points more than ever.
For Martin, it is Neil’s influence and the winning energy at the club that have helped to restore a sense of muchneeded optimism.
“We have got a lot of momentum and belief at the minute, and the feel-good factor is back – that hasn’t been there for a while,” the 29-year-old defender said.
“Sometimes you just get a feeling in team sports that everyone really is pulling in the right direction together and the belief is building.
“Even when we were 1-0 down on Tuesday at Blackburn Rovers, we were pretty confident that we were going to win the game, and we got the late goal to do that.
“Late goals were a hallmark of the last time we got promoted, and that shows the character and desire to win games that you need to earn promotion.
“Now we have put ourselves in and amongst it all we don’t want to waste the hard work, so it is up to us to make sure we keep it going.
“We have not been looking too far ahead, the manager always preaches to us that it is all about the next game. It was the same at halftime the other night, that second half was the biggest 45 minutes of our season, and now it is the same with the Ipswich game.”
Gary Hooper is fit to return to the squad after not travelling to Blackburn on Tuesday while Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe is also in contention to take a spot in the 18.
However, Ryan Bennett (hamstring) won’t be involved despite returning to full training this week while Elliott Bennett (hamstring) and Gary O’Neil (toe) will also definitely miss out.
But whoever lines up for the Canaries, Martin – who scored against Ipswich in a 5-1 win in the promotion-winning season of 2010-11 – knows to expect a feisty atmosphere on a potentially pivotal afternoon.
“This fixture has always got a bit of added spice,” Martin added. “It means a lot to the fans and both football clubs in general.
“We have to approach it as another game, but also be aware of the importance it bears and how much it means to our fans and everyone around the place.
“They are big games, every one I have played in has had a brilliant atmosphere, and fortunately I have been in some good performances and results in the end – hopefully that will continue.
“Both teams are fighting for the same thing at the minute, so it could be quite a big one.”
FUN TIME: Russell Martin and his Norwich teammates are on a high